If you need some fresh, new ideas for the ESL travel and holiday unit that you can find in most textbooks, then you’re in the right place. We’ll share our top 20 ideas for games and activities, along with travel vocabulary, worksheets and lesson plans. Let’s get to it!
ESL Travel and Holiday Activities: Top 20
Here are the top 20 ESL travel activities that you may want to try out with your students.
#1: Plan a Trip
Have your students plan a dream vacation in English! Instead of researching in their first language, use Google in English. In order to practice writing, keep notes only in English. Here’s an example of how you might plan your trip using English. You can have your students add as little, or as much detail as you’d like. However, the point of the activity is to practice writing in point form which is useful when writing outlines for tests or essays.
Day 1: Monday, January 1
Fly Seoul (3pm) —-> Vancouver (7am)
Check in Hotel ABC, 123 Avenue
Day 2: Tuesday, January 2
Stay Hotel ABC
Tour Stanley Park
Eat Pub XYZ dinner
Day 3: Wednesday, January 3
Check out Hotel ABC
Rent car Budget 123
Rent skis shop ABC
Lunch ski lodge
Check in Hotel ABC Whistler
- Give students time to do some Internet research about a place they want to go. It’s helpful to specify the number of days. I generally make a rule that they must do this research in English. Suggest some helpful websites where they might like to start (Trip Advisor, Air BnB, etc.).
- Students can make a day-by-day itinerary of what they’re trip is going to look like.
- They can share about their trip with the class or turn it in for a graded assignment.
#2: A-Z Alphabet Game
If you know that your students already know a fair bit about holiday and travel, you may want to try this quick warm-up game. Or, you could consider using it as a review game at the end of a class.
The way it works is that students, in pairs or small groups write down the alphabet on a piece of paper. Then, they have to think of one travel related word for each letter. It doesn’t have to be done in order. For example:
The winner is the team with the most completed letters at the end of the allotted time. Do you want to find out more? Check this out: A-Z Alphabet Game ESL.
#3: Travel Word Association
This is nice ESL activity to do if you know that your students have studied about travel and holidays before. They can shout out vocabulary words related to this and you can make a mind map or sorts on the board. Group similar things together. For example, articles of clothing.
Find out more about this quick ESL warmer right here: ESL Vocabulary Word Association.
- Amazon Kindle Edition
- Bolen, Jackie (Author)
- English (Publication Language)
- 94 Pages - 06/18/2020 (Publication Date)
If you can get your hands on some cheap postcards or have some laying around your house or teacher’s office, try out this fun writing activity. It may just be the novelty factor, but students seem to love it. This activity is ideal for working on common greetings, the past tense (more ideas here: ESL past tense games), using descriptive words, as well as using synonyms to avoid repetition.
Distribute the postcards to the students. You can do one per student, or put the students into pairs. They have to look at the picture on the front of the postcard and imagine that they went on this vacation. Then, they can write about their trip to a friend or family member.
Next, the students trade postcards with another student or group. After reading them, they can write a response back of at least a few sentences. Finally, you may want to display them around the class as they’re colorful and fun and other students may enjoy reading them!
- Give each student or pair a postcard. They look at the picture and imagine what they did on that vacation, and then pretend that they’re writing to a friend or family member.
- Exchange postcards and another student or group has to write a response to what they read.
- Display the postcards around your classroom (optional).
#5: Travel or Holiday Videos
I’m ALL about using videos with my ESL/EFL students. They’re fun, engaging and a nice way to grab student’s attention and introduce a topic. Of course, you can base an entire class around one too if you design the activities well.
If you want to find out more about using them in your classes and some activities and games to do with them, you’ll want to check this out: Using Videos for Teaching English.
Here’s one good example of a video you can use about sightseeing in England:
This is a challenging activity that works on listening and writing skills. Find a short story related to holiday or travel. It could even be a description of your own vacation that you took recently.
Then, you read out the story to your students in a way that is a bit challenging for them to catch every word. Students have to take notes and then try to reconstruct what they heard based on their notes in small groups. You can read it again so that students have a chance to make some additions or corrections. Finally, students compare their version with the original.
Do you want to try it out with your students? You can learn more about it here: ESL Dictogloss Activity.
#7: Yes/No Questions and Answers
If you think about it, holidays and travel lend themselves to a ton of yes/no questions. For example:
- Did you fly or drive?
- Did you eat some delicious things?
- Was the food good?
- Did you have nice weather?
If you want to see some activities or games to work on these kinds of questions, you’ll want to check this out: Yes/No Activities and Games.
#8: ESL Food Activities and Games
I’m not sure if it’s the same for you, but when I travel, it’s ALL about the food. I want to try all the delicious things where I’m staying! The good news is that I have a ton of fun, interactive games and activities for food. You can easily adapt most of them to focus on holidays.
You can find out more details here: ESL Food Activities.
#9: ESL Surveys
I love to use surveys in my classes because they lend themselves to just about any topic. In the case of travel, they’re ideal for working on the present perfect and simple past together.
Have you ever traveled to another country?
Where did you go?
If you want to know more about how to design and use surveys in your classes, then you’ll want to check this out: Surveys for ESL Students.
I also love to use ESL surveys to get students to express an opinion in English.
#10: Present Perfect Activities Related to Travel
The present perfect is often used to talk about vacations, travel and holidays. For example:
- Have you ever been to another country?
- Have you travelled to ______ before?
In order to incorporate this grammatical construction into some of your lesson, you’ll want to check this out: Present Perfect ESL Activities.
#11: Brochure Scanning
This is an excellent travel activity! You’ll have to get your hands on some travel brochures first. The way it works is that students get tons of practice with a reading sub-skill (scanning) because they have to look quickly through the brochures to find specific bits of information. For example, cost or number or days.
Do you want to try out this reading activity? You can find out all the details here: Brochure Scanning Reading Activity for ESL.
#12: Odd One Out ESL Warmer
This is a quick English warm-up activity that you can try out with your students. The way it works is that you write words, in groups of 4 on the board. 3 are similar and 1 is the odd one out. Students have to choose this one and say why it doesn’t fit. For example:
Bathing suit, sunglasses, boots, flip-flops
Answers: Boots because it’s not for a beach vacation. I accept many different answers as long as students support it well.
You can learn more about this ESL warm-up here: Odd One Out for ESL.
#13: Would you Rather?
I’m sure you’ve done this before with friends. You have to choose between two negative things, or two positive things. For example, how you want to die, or what you want to eat. In this case, students could choose between two types of vacation. For example:
Would you rather have a beach or forest vacation?
Would you rather stay in a big hotel, or an AirBNB?
Learn more about it here: ESL Would You Rather?
#14: Task Based Activity: Dream Vacation
I love to incorporate this style of teaching into my holiday lessons. It allows students more freedom to choose what they want to learn about and also builds opportunities for some serious teamwork.
In this case, I’ll have students work in groups of 2-3 to plan a dream vacation. They can do some research to find out all the details including how to get there, food, budget, where to stay, etc. Then, they either have to write a report and hand it in to me and/or do a short presentation to the class.
#15: Travel Themed Charades
I love to play charades with my students. The way it works is that you can think of some travel related phrases. For example:
- Flying on a plane
- Sleeping on a bus
- Eating noodles
- Buying souveneirs
Then, students have to act this out and their teammates have to guess what the phrase is. More details here: ESL Charades.
#16: Postcards ESL Writing Activity
If you have some old blank postcards laying around or can get your hands on a stack of them for cheap, consider trying out this fun English writing activity. Find out all the details you need to know right here:
#17: Eliciting in an ESL Travel Lesson
Unless your students are absolute beginners, then it’s likely that they already know a good amount of travel and holiday vocabulary. That’s often why I like to start off my ESL traveling lesson by using some eliciting techniques. There are two main reasons for this.
The first reason is that it’s possible to find out what the students already know about this topic to avoid wasting class time covering these things. The second is that it helps students activate their prior knowledge about travel/holidays to make the new things they learn more memorable. Learn how to do it:
#18: Idiom ESL Traveling Activity
There are lots of idioms related to holidays, travel and transportation. Here are just a few of them:
- All hands on deck
- To send flying
- Bump in the road
- Off the rails
- Train wreck
- Asleep at the wheel
- Fall off the wagon
- Hit the road
One of the best ways to make these idioms super memorable is to do this fun activity. Afterwards, your students will never forget! Learn more about this ESL activity:
#19: Concentration ESL Traveling Vocabulary
One of the best ways to review new words during an ESL holiday or travel lesson is to play this memory game. Depending on the level of the students, make some matching pairs of cards with the following:
- Word/clue about the word
Then in small groups, students play the game to find the matches. Find out all the details about how to set it up and play:
#20: Travel Transportation Guessing Game
Travel and Holiday Vocabulary
Here are some of the most common vocabulary words that you may want to teach your students related to traveling.
- bathing suit
- boarding pass
More ESL Travel Vocabulary
Check out this short video for even more ideas:
Travel Worksheets and Lesson Plans for ESL
If you’re looking for some worksheets or lesson plans related to holidays and travel, then you’ll want to check out some of our top resource recommendations:
Did you Like these Travel Games for ESL?
- Amazon Kindle Edition
- Bolen, Jackie (Author)
- English (Publication Language)
- 65 Pages - 11/12/2019 (Publication Date)
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You can get the book in digital or print formats. Take the e-version with you to your favourite coffee shop for lesson planning on the go. Or, keep a copy on the bookshelf in your office to use as a handy reference guide. But the best idea is to have it with you at all times for those English teaching emergencies.
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Have your Say about these ESL Travel Activities and Games
What are your thoughts about these Holiday ESL activities? Do you have another one that you’d like to recommend to us? Leave a comment below and let us know what you think. We’d love to hear from you.
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Last update on 2021-01-17 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API